What to Eat After a Workout.

I just read an e-mail from a confused blog buddy that needs some post-workout nutrition guidance. Here’s my best shot.

Admittedly, it can get confusing – especially when marketing comes into play. Dozens of workout shakes are pushed our way, not to mention a whole slew of protein bars. So what’s one to do?

First things first, there is one thing that you definitely don’t want to eat after you exercise: Fat. Even “good” fat. Obviously, all of us need fat in our diets, but immediately following a workout is not when you want to consume it. Fat slows down digestion – and after a workout, your body needs to be replenished quickly. This is why I tend to avoid “muscle milk” which is actually quite high in fat.

There are three things you do need after a workout:

  • Hydration – I prefer water.
  • Carbohydrates.
  • Protein.

And how soon do you need them? Very quickly. I try to get my initial post-workout feeding within 20 or 30 minutes of exercising. Definitely within 1 hour.

When it comes for protein, we know that not all proteins are created equal. You want a high quality protein that is absorbed quickly by the body. This is why I tend to mix some whey protein powder for my initial intake as a shake. I recommend that you try the same – whey protein (ideally, whey isolate instead of concentrate) is as good as it gets! If you need deeper guidance, find out how much protein you should be consuming over the course of a day.

You also need carbs. Thanks to the likes of Dr. Atkins, women and many gay men alike try to avoid carbs like the bubonic plague. But carbohydrates are super important to your post-workout recovery. In fact, they restore muscle glycogen – and if you don’t have carbs, your body may break down muscle to perform the same process. So, make sure your post-workout meal does contain carbs. There are several formulas to calculate the exact amount, but they generally point to a range of 30 – 70 grams, depending on body weight and workout length and intensity.

If you want to get fancy, try a chicken sandwich or egg white veggie omelet with toast. But really, a good protein shake powder will generally do the trick. You can even bring the powder with you to the gym – or leave a scoop in your protein bottle and just add water on your way home. It’s a great way to help you make the most of your workout and get the results you want!

What do you eat after you workout? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. My post workout meal usually consists of a spinach, mushroom, cheese scramble with 1 english muffin. It usually goes well and fills me up just enough!

  2. Fruit (often a banana), a 8oz low-fat chocolate milk, and lots of water.

  3. Having just finished a work out I’m drinking water and left over chicken (I roast one a week). Usually I have a homemade smoothie but out of fruit.

  4. Davidicus Bellefonte says:

    I usually have 1 hard boiled egg, and a half a cup of old fashioned oatmeal with cinnamon.
    I drink soymilk with it (I’m lactose intolerant)

  5. my post work-out meal… eaten within 45 minutes of finishing my workout… a whey protein shake and a handful of peanuts or almonds… sometimes a piece of fruit…. and lots of water all night long..
    btw, mixed nuts, almonds and peanuts contain copious amounts of good fats… but you said no fats after a work-out… wait what?

    – cheers… david

    • Ops your right – come to think of it, nuts probably aren’t the best choice after a workout because of the fat content! Regarding your post-workout meal, make sure you include the fruit because otherwise it seems a little carb-light.

  6. I love to get Chipotle (chicken bowl and chips) after I swim a hard workout!

  7. I too go for the bananas, and lots of water with a big bag of trail mix!

  8. i thing i was the confused blog buddy!
    Thanks a bunch Davey! Really helped!

  9. For ease I take a shaker to the gym filled with 40g of whey protein powder, 25g of maltodextrin and 25g of dextrose.

    Isnโ€™t the tastiest of meals but I think it ticks all the nutrition boxes.

  10. While I think shakes have their place, especially when you are not in a position to prepare real food due to time or space, I prefer to eat some solid food after workout. I will often have a leftover from the night before, like the chicken and rice I had yesterday.

  11. Eat the whole egg in your omelet. The yolk is where all the vitamins and minerals are found (selenium, B12, folate, phosphorus, etc). It’s also a myth that eggs raise bad cholesterol. What they do, in fact, is raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). The yolks also have a very high amino acid score, and are loaded with high quality protein. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I make a shake (the blender’s my best friend) with ice, milk, an egg, a small thing of yogurt, and usually frozen berries and/or a banana… If i’m feeling crazy, usually I’ll throw in some other fruits (apple, pineapple, peach) or even a veg (cucumber ๐Ÿ™‚ ). You can always change up the combination to keep it different and interesting, and the fact that it’s (for the most part) raw foods is a definite bonus!

  13. Buckwheat tuna and salad Sandwhich yum

  14. ahem ahem…your post workout meal has to be mlnaiy simple carbs and not complex carbs because you want to restore your glycogin stores. Protein is often out of the question because you can have that later (like 1 hours later or so).

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